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STEWARD STORY: There's More Than One Way to Nourish a Campus Community (February 2022)

BYU Dining Services director Dean Wright, pictured here with his wife Pam on November 6th, 2021, will retire in 2022 after 25 years at BYU.

Support. Sustain. Share. For BYU Dining Services Director Dean Wright, the phrase is more than just a catchy slogan on the back of his Jeep; it’s a campus commitment and a personal quest. Inventor of Cougar Tails and the Choices restaurant concept in the Cougareat, Wright has made lasting contributions at BYU, but he’s most proud of having helped bring people together—“breaking bread,” he calls it—through food.

Previously at BYU-Hawaii, Penn State, and Utah State, Wright traveled to Washington, D.C., in 1996 to discuss childhood hunger with members of Congress. “To see any child go hungry is upsetting,” he says. Joining BYU a year later, he increased the school’s support for local food banks and students in need. “I hate to see any waste in my department,” he says.

Under Wright’s leadership since 1997, BYU Dining has grown not only more socially impactful, but also more environmentally sustainable. “It is no small thing to be made stewards of the Lord’s house and caretakers of his creations,” reads a statement Wright crafted with his leadership team in 2012. “BYU Dining Services strives to fill this responsibility through the purchase and use of products that are safe for consumption, support local sustainability efforts, and demonstrate a commitment to stewardship.”

Examples abound. BYU sources nearly one-third of its food from local farms, ranches, and dairies, an impressive statistic given BYU’s size. While improving freshness and lowering emissions, these efforts also sustain regional partners, many of whom were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which shut down farmers markets at BYU and elsewhere. Pulping, composting, and trayless dining reduce waste and emissions. High-tech appliances save water and energy. And plant-based menu offerings, such as those at Choices, support healthy, sustainable dining.

Wright will retire in 2022, but he leaves a legacy, having taught us, in the words of Brigham Young, that a man worth millions of bushels is not wealthy enough to sweep a single kernel into the fire. “Let it…pass again into the earth,” Young said, “and thus fulfill the purpose for which it grew. Remember it, do not waste anything, but take care of everything.”

STEWARD STORY: The Cyclist Who Built His Own Sidewalks (October 2021)

Advocates like Aaron Skabelund, introduced here by BYU alumna Kira Johnson, create safer streets for Provo's residents.

Professor Aaron Skabelund has been biking to work since he began teaching at BYU in 2006. The Provo resident, husband, and father of two also helped form BYU's bicycle committee and, for years, advanced bike infrastructure projects on campus and championed active transportation and transit in Provo. During his career, he visited some of the world’s greatest biking and walking cities and asked, “Why can’t Provo be one of them?”

With windswept hair and a compact, wiry frame, Skabelund looks more like a professional cyclist than a historian of modern Japan. But his office, crammed with books and papers, assures visitors that Skabelund is one serious scholar. The benefits of cycling—staying fit, saving money, reducing one’s environmental impact—can be enjoyed by anyone. The challenge is making streets safe for cyclists and pedestrians and others.

Skabelund should know. In 2008, he revived the Provo Bicycle Committee, which later became BikeWalk Provo, a non-profit that has successfully advocated for new bikeways, crosswalks, sidewalks, and signage throughout Provo. In his neighborhood, he led a decade-long effort to transform Lions Park. And now, he’s running for city council. “Every single neighborhood in the city should be safe, connected and thriving,” he says. “I’m running to make that happen.”

Skabelund will face fellow BYU graduate Katrice Mackay in the general election on November 2. Registered voters can learn more about the election here.

STEWARD STORY: The BYU Club that Harnessed the Wind (September 2021)

Last fall, inspired to pursue a career in renewable energy, undergraduate James Cutler (top right) founded the BYU Wind Energy Club. Just three months later, the club received a $20,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy and a chance to compete in this year’s Collegiate Wind Competition against just 12 other teams, including Texas Tech, Virginia Tech, and Penn State.

Assembling a multidisciplinary team, Cutler went to work. The club developed a turbine prototype. They designed a site plan and cost-of-energy analysis for a 100-megawatt wind farm in western South Dakota. And in June, they presented their work to a panel of judges made up of leading wind energy professionals. Before passing the baton to new club president David McClintock, Cutler earned his team an invitation to compete again in 2022, this time at a national clean energy conference in San Antonio.

"I was afraid we wouldn’t qualify because it was so rushed," said Cutler, who is now earning his PhD with the BYU FLOW Lab. "I think we turned in the proposal literally two minutes before the deadline. But I’m glad to see the BYU CWC team is still going strong."

For the latest updates, follow the club on Facebook or Instagram.

Envisioning a Sustainable Future: Film Screening and Q&A with the Ballard Center (9/9-9/11)

"2040" Trailer - September 2021 Peery Films Series

Focusing on environmental sustainability throughout September, the Ballard Center for Social Impact partnered with BYU Sustainability to offer six screenings of the film 2040, which explores existing new approaches to climate change and what could happen if they shifted into the mainstream. Some 300 people attended, with post-film discussions led by Dr. Ben Abbott, assistant professor and head of the new Environmental Science & Sustainability program at BYU; Dr. Josh LeMonte, assistant professor and head of the new Environmental Geology program at BYU; and Bremen Leak, director of BYU Sustainability.

A New BYU Course Tackles Climate Change

What is climate change? Why does it matter? And what can we do about it? In this new course, Dr. Ben Abbott explores one of the defining environmental, ethical, and spiritual challenges of our day: human-caused climate change. Offered virtually and in person, this course also fulfills BYU's Physical Science requirement. Learn more.

Introducing PWS 180: Climate Change Science & Solutions

Saving Utah Lake

On August 4th, 2021, BYU, UVU, and other partners held a free, public symposium on the challenges and opportunities facing one of the largest and most productive freshwater lakes in the western U.S.—our own Utah Lake. Learn more, watch recordings, and get involved at utahlake.byu.edu.

Utah Lake
Development and pollution threaten Utah Lake. We reflect on what that means for the environment—and for us.

A Sustainable Summer

Marking Juneteenth and the start of summer, the BYU Sustainability Office met on June 19th with students, campus leaders, and local partners at River Park, one of campus's hidden gems. Next to massive cottonwoods and the peaceful Provo River, we got acquainted and coordinated our efforts to make BYU more sustainable and inclusive. Thanks to everyone who came!

June 19th 2021 Meeting

Bike-friendlier Than Ever

Our campus has been recognized by the League of American Bicyclists as bicycle-friendly, making BYU a great place to ride. Visit BYU Bicycling to learn more, or visit Move Utah to celebrate 100+ miles of multi-use trails all throughout June. Need a bike? BYU’s Outdoors Unlimited offers short-term rentals, and BYU's Bike Sharing program offers long-term rentals.

Biking
Bike lanes, multi-use trails, mountain-biking routes—find it all just minutes from campus.

Sprucing Up Slate Canyon

To celebrate Earth Day, BYU joined Conserve Utah Valley, Provo City, and Utah Valley University—about 400 volunteers in all—for a day of service at nearby Slate Canyon. The April 24th project included landscaping, graffiti removal, litter collection, and plant and wildlife identification—with a little help from mobile apps and friendly staff from BYU's Bean Life Science Museum. Missed the cleanup? Read coverage in the Daily Herald, and visit conserveutahvalley.org to learn how you can help sustain our canyons, foothills, open spaces, and waters.

Slate Canyon Plants
Relying on apps and experts, citizen scientists at Slate Canyon identified vetch, primrose, spurge, and other plants, as well as birds and insects. Spurge, at right, is an invasive plant with high toxicity.

Preserving and Protecting Y Mountain

Thanks to all the BYU students and volunteers who helped us kick off Earth Month at Y Mountain on April 8th. Led by Dr. Matthew Madsen, this conservation corps replaced invasive plants with native grasses grown in the BYU Life Sciences Greenhouse, enjoyed valley views, and learned about restoration ecology. Their efforts will decrease the risk of wildfire at the trailhead, curb erosion, and increase foraging opportunities and habitat cover for mule deer and other animal populations. Read coverage in The Daily Universe.

Y Clean Up
A restorative afternoon at BYU's favorite trailhead.